This is the text of the welcome address as drafted and may differ from the delivered version. This address was delivered by our Chair, Aidene Walsh, on 9 May at the PSR Annual Plan event 2023.

Hello everyone, I’m Aidene Walsh, Chair of the Payment Systems Regulator. It is great to see so many of you here this morning at this key stakeholder event and also all of you who have joined online.  

The PSR is now into the second year of its five-year Strategy. It is important to note that the strategy is being maintained in support of the outcomes that the PSR is striving for:  

  • Users are protected 
  • There is effective competition in payments 
  • Payment systems are efficient 

We recognise that this is a pivotal year in terms of delivery of existing strategic priorities and Chris will touch upon this and also in preparing for future developments. This is why the Board approved a financial plan that will allow the PSR team to deliver against both of these strands in the coming year. 

It will also allow Chris to complete his organisational design by creating a supervisory team, a natural evolution in the PSR’s progress, to supervise the payment systems operators (Pay.UK, LINK, Visa, Mastercard and Fnality in due course). And to do this in a way that makes sense for each firm. 

Given the pace of change with payments, it is important we anticipate and respond to developments on the horizon, adapting and evolving our approach and indeed strategy as necessary. It is also important for the PSR to appreciate where the UK sits in the international landscape, where what we have is best in class and then what we can learn from best practice elsewhere.  

We’re seeing a number of large technology firms investing in and exploring opportunities in payments and new payment technologies coming to market, with Sterling Fnality looking to be the world’s first high-value regulated payment system based on distributed ledger technology. 

And the UK government, the Bank of England and the Treasury have recently set out proposals for a retail central bank digital currency; proposals that we are actively engaged with.  

All of this points to the importance of regularly talking to all of you and engaging in a two-way dialogue. This helps us improve our understanding of payments markets, refine and improve our regulatory proposals and understand where we should prioritise our efforts. Continuing to enhance how we engage right across payments remains a priority for us. And today’s event is of course one opportunity to do that.  

Where we do not have direct responsibilities and powers, I also see that the PSR plays an important role in influencing across ecosystems that impact payments in order to improve customer outcomes. A good example of this is our support and involvement in the Government’s fraud strategy. We are also currently considering what we need to do in respect of supporting efforts to enable better access to digital payments 

It is a comprehensive and ambitious annual plan and I hope you take from it confidence that the PSR is increasingly moving in an agile manner to meet its statutory objectives of innovation, competition and ensuring payment systems consider the interests of end users. 

I am very much looking forward to hearing your input today and working with you all as we continue our important work in furthering UK payment systems.